It seems that everywhere you look these days, the word “organic” is in wide use on a variety of products from shampoo to onion dip! But, how do you know that what you are getting is truly organic? Now here’s where it can be very tricky. It turns out that manufacturers of products can be very creative with the use of the “O” word without running afoul of federal guidelines. For instance, you may find the word “organic” somewhere in the name of a product or it could even be in the product description on the label, but the product in question is not organic at all! You see, companies know that the use of the word “organic” is a big money maker. The stakes are high when you consider that just the organic food industry alone is projected to do around 104.7 billion this year! They know that people are looking for organic products and are counting on you to buy products just because you see the “O” word somewhere on the label. Yet, it doesn’t actually have to be organic. Pretty slick, huh? So, how do you know what is the real deal? The United States of Agriculture (USDA) through its National Organic Program defines two levels of what are considered certified organic products. They are:
- 100% USDA Certified Organic – must be made with 100% organic ingredients and may display the USDA Organic Seal.
- Organic Product– must be made with at least 95% organic ingredients and may display the USDA Organic Seal.
The USDA further states that any product with less than 95% certified organic ingredients may not bear the seal, however, any organic ingredients used may appear on the label. Unlike food and agricultural products, the USDA has no authority over the production and labeling of personal care products, however, if a given product meets the USDA organic standards, it can display the seal. The USDA protects the use of the integrity of the seal and will impose some very stiff fines for products being sold that are labeled as organic that do not meet the guidelines. Bottom line, if you do not see the seal, then the product has not been certified by the USDA as organic. So, when purchasing organic products, look for the USDA seal to ensure that you get what you are paying for.